Wines: France and Spain!

Ok so let’s go back and talk about one of my favorite subjects in a general sense as it can be very personal issue. I will write a bit on wines, the beautiful healthy drink of the gods. And why not make this time a combine entry of the two countries very dear to me and who not only are No 1 and No 2 in visitors by the UN-WTO but also produce some if not the best wine in the world. I will spare you reading about my credentials in the wine world. Oh yes, of course, as the title says Wines: France and Spain!

According to the OIV =  International Organization of Vine and Wine ; more on it here: Official site of the OIV

The world vineyard area, whatever the final destination of the grapes grown in it, including the vineyards that have not yet entered production, is in slight increase compared to 2017, +24,000 hectares. Spain remains largely at the top of the cultivated area, with 969,000 hectares, followed by China (875,000 ha) and France (793,000 ha)!

In 2018, the world production of fresh grapes (for all uses), China is the first world producer with 11.7 million tons, followed by Italy (8.6), United States (6.9), Spain (6, 9) and France (5.5). The three European leaders increased their production by 28%.  Table grape production has doubled to 27.3 million tons, with China’s world leader followed by Turkey.

The wine (discounted juices and musts) reached one of its biggest productions since 2000 with 292 million hectoliters, 17% more than in 2017, year of serious climatic difficulties. Italy (54.8) is the world leader, followed by France (48.6) and Spain (44.4 hl). Productions in the United States, Argentina and Chile are still high. South Africa suffered a severe drought and fell. Second year followed by recession in China, due to a fall in crops: -22%.  The available data show a stabilization of world consumption with 248 million hl. Since 2014 it fluctuates between stabilization and recovery in Europe. The United States confirms its leadership with 33 million hl, followed by France (26.8), Italy (22.4), Germany (20.0) and China (17.9). The distribution was, by volume: 54% bottled wine, 33% bulk, sparkling 9%, BiB 4%. But in value the bottled ones represent 69.7%, the sparkling 19.8%, the bulk 8.6% and the BiB 2%.  Spain (21.1 million hl), Italy (19.7) and France (14.1) dominate exports by volume, with more than half of the world total. The main importing countries were Germany (14.7), United Kingdom (13.2), United States (11.5), France (7.1) and China (6.9).

The first forecasts for the harvest of 2019,in  Spain, counting with the unknown of how the high temperatures of August will affect the ripening of the grape  draw a campaign with a medium production and a harvest that will be generalized around September 10, somewhat earlier than in 2018. The agricultural organizations and Cooperatives Agro-Alimentary consulted by Efe (Spanish press agency)  calculate a harvest of between 40 and 44 million hectoliters of wine, which means a return to normality, with a considerable reduction compared to the current one and that It can even reach 20%  less in some areas.

There are no serious accidents been recorded, with the exception of the storms that affected the area of ​​Utiel-Requena (Valencian Community) and La Manchuela (Castilla-La Mancha) a few weeks ago, with multiple cases of hail. To this is added the heat of recent weeks, which can have a very negative effect on the vineyards, given the water stress that the plant already suffers; and although they insist that it is early for exact valuations, all these climatic conditions could lead to a normal pulling down campaign.

More in Spanish from Efe here: official Efe Agro on Wines of Spain

The wineries in Bordeaux are still full of wine when we approach the grape harvest, sales fall sharply, especially in supermarkets, the Chinese market is going bad ! Bordeaux wines have announced a series of measures to try to turn this brutal crisis. The new president of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB), Bernard Farges, has recognized ” Bordeaux suffers at this time”.  The sales have decreased greatly, under the short-term effect of the 2017 harvest (-40% due to frost), but also due to the structural effects of the sector and the evolution of the types of consumption, exports are up 4% in value, but in fact they have been saved by high-end wines, because the global volume drop reached -13%, caused particularly by the collapse of the Chinese market, in which French wines suffer from the competition of Australians and Chileans, who have no import tariffs, and this at the time the economy China is slowing down. In the long term, the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB) , also wants to evolve in terms of communication to reach the young generation and remove Bordeaux from its clichés. My five cents; need a lot of work catching up, I told you so many years back! More info at the CIVB here: Official CIVB in French can be change

The recognition by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the first 84 Singular Vineyards, which has just been published in the Official State Gazette. The Rioja Qualified Denomination of Origin gives the possibility of identifying a more specific origin for certain wines, certified by the Regulatory Council. They were thus defined as wines from vineyards with more than 35 years of age and whose yields do not exceed, naturally and by virtue of their limited vigor, 5,000 kg. per hectare in the case of red varieties and 6,922 kg. in white varieties. In turn, its transformation is limited to 65 liters per 100 kg. of grape, its cultivation is respectful with the environment and its harvest manually. The counter labels that will guarantee these wines will include, certifying all these extremes, the mention “Viñedo Singular”, or Singular Vineyard , which will allow consumers to know that all the characteristics described are certified by the Regulatory Council. In fact, Rioja is not marking a path, but several, sometimes contradictory. It has not entered, for example, by the process of distinguishing the towns of its current territory that do not offer enough quality in their territory to receive the DO label, but still receive it. And it already has 84 high quality vines selected without specifying whether there are one or more levels in that category (such as ‘grands crus’ and ‘premiers crus’ in Burgundy). Finally, its regulation of the village wines or towns  fails, compared with that of the best French denominations, because it requires, for a wine to hold that category, which is made in the same town from which its grapes originate, thus making it impossible for a Winery that can make several ‘village wines’ when it has vineyards in several villages. In Burgundy a winegrower usually produces two, three, five or ten wines from different ‘villages’ in the same facility. And it is logical: what counts is the vineyard, not the location of the winery.  In the list there are vineyards already well known by Rioja wine followers, such as the Tapias de Marqués de Riscal, Alto Cantabria or Finca La Emperatriz, along with others that are completely new. More to come on this issue and will follow up!

More from the Consejo Regulador de la Rioja here: Rioja wines consejo regulador on vinedos singulares

The publication in the Official State Gazette,(BOE) that makes it official law in pdf file is here: BOE official announcemnet of the 84 vinedos singulares

And let me finish with some exciting samples of the Navarra region wines which I have been drinking for a long time and just in recent years are becoming very good value price/quality ratio.  In specific let me tell you about the wonderful wines of Navarra!

A panoramic review of Navarrese whites in which we find more white Grenache wines than chardonnay is a sample, anecdotal if you want, of the transformation of the wine sector in the community since those times dominated by French grapes!. From this white selection my favorites are:

Chivite Chivite Collection 125 Blanco FB Collection (2016);  bodegas y Vinedos Artazu, Artazu Santa Cruz de Artazu Blanco (2015), Chivite Legardeta Chardonnay FB  (2018), Bodega Nekeas  Nekeas Cuvée Allier FB (2017) (great price /quality ratio here) , Laderas de  Montejurra  (Emilio Valerio) Emilio Valerio Rosado de Leorín (2018);  and Bodega del Señorío de Otazu Otazu Chardonnay (2018).

On the reds my selection are (only my selection there are more ok) : The red Garnacha in Navarra. The regional community was slow to begin the recovery of a native grape that had been systematically uprooted. Now we contemplate its happy return, with several styles according to the terroirs of origin , the Navarra vineyard is geologically and geographically diverse  but always with a combination of power and elegance that has excited us. The selection are :

From Viña Zorzal Senora de las Alturas (2016), Lecciones de Vuelo (2016); Malayeto (2016); Corral de los Altos (2016) , then , Bodegas y Viñedos Artazu, Pasos de San Martín (2015); Bodega Inurrieta , Inurrieta Mimaò Garnacha (2017); Bodegas Nekeas El Chaparral by Vega Sindoa (2017), Grupo Chivite Las Fieles Garnacha (2015); and Bodega San Martín Sdad. Coop.La Matacalva Garnacha (2016).

A wonderful town nice places to see and most of all its wines, the tradition of Madrid!

The town of Valdepeñas, is located in the province of Ciudad Real autonomous región of Castilla La Mancha.  At present, the Wine Festivities are held annually in Valdepeñas, at the beginning of September. Its wines belong to a designation of origin that was founded in 1968, and that produces wines throughout the region.

Of the eight visited wineries in Valdepeñas, the most unique is Dionysus. It is better known as La Bodega de las Estrellas (winery of the stars), not because they are famous, but because they make organic wines (mostly in traditional clay jars), taking into account at all times, from pruning to racking, lunar phases and  the position of the stars. They make 12 astrowines, ad hoc wines for the Aries, for the Leo, for the Virgo and for the rest of the zodiac gang. Córcovo is a family winery, with quality wines and an impressive cave of barrels carved into the rock. To make tastings and acquire oenological jewels you should go to the Enoteca 11 Ánforas ( amphora’s). Their webpages to follow

Bodegas de las Estrellas

Bodega Corcovo

Enoteca 11 Anforas

Without wine, Valdepeñas would not be Valdepeñas. And Madrid, without wine from Valdepeñas, would not be Madrid either: The Puerta de Alcalá gate was built thanks to a special tax that levied the consumption (important since the mid-16C) of these wines in the city and court. These and other curiosities are told in the Museo del Vino (wine museum ) ,open from Tuesday to Sunday; entrance, 3 euros, former cellar of Leocadio Morales, from 1901, where the afternoon will be night walking through the monumental vessel of jars and contemplating the photos that the American Harry Gordon took on this earth during the vintage of 1959.

Museo del Vino de Valdepenas wine museum

vineyards fairs of Valdepena from Castilla La Mancha in English

Tourist office Castilla La Mancha on bodegas in Valdepenas

And if you are in France soon, check these dates out for wines galores!!

The 2019 Foire aux vins (wine fair)  is coming!  The major supermarket and stores, my selection are Auchan: from 24 September to 8 October 2019, Carrefour hypermarkets: from 10 September to 23 September 2019 Géant Casino: 3 September 15, 2019, Franprix: from September 18 to October 6, 2019, Intermarché: from September 10 to September 29, 2019; Lavinia: from September 17 to October 15, 2019, Leclerc: from October 1 to October 13, 2019, Monoprix: from September 9 to October 27, 2019, and Nicolas: from September 11 to October 15, 2019.

A great domaine and great wine to keep in mind while in France or maybe you can get where you are!

The Domaine de Fontenille, in the Luberon Regional Nature Park, between Provence and the Rhone Valley, organizes from September 19th to October 27th, from Thursday to Sunday, the Matinées Vendanges. Domaine de Fontenille, Route de Roquefraiche, 84360 Lauris.  Les Matinées Vendanges – Price: 60 € per person On reservation only by phone at +33 (0) or by email

Webpage Domaine de Fontenille:

And for closing, cachet finale at Château d’Estoublon!!!

The Château d’Estoublon,  majestic work, took up its quarters in the 8C near Fontvieille, in the valley of Les Baux, in Provence. Surrounded by unspoilt nature, it offers a quality wine tourism program, with a very upscale service in the spirit of the region. The 1.6-kilometer stroll lasts about 45 minutes and allows you to cover a part of an exceptional site that includes 120 hectares of olive groves and 20 hectares of vineyards. In addition, the Château, whose entrance is magnified by a path of century-old pine trees, has a restaurant, the Bistrot Mogador, located in a former winery. The Bistrot has a beautiful terrace, with a view of the rose garden. Guests can also settle in an indoor room, which is an old cellar. A shop-grocery store allows you to taste different wines from the estate, commented by experts, free of charge and without an appointment. Château d’Estoublon, Route de Maussane 13990 Fontvieille. More info here :

This is it in the wonderful magical wine world; do you dine with wines? we do every day good for you. Enjoy them while you can, life is too short. The pleasures of France and Spain, unlimited!!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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